Sustainable Technology and Energy for Vital Economic Needs
The S.T.E.V.E.N. Foundation was incorporated in New York, USA in 1986 by Emeritus Prof. Jaroslav Vanek of Cornell University. The name stands for Sustainable Technology and Energy for Vital Economic Needs, and the goal of the Foundation is to develop and disseminate low-cost appropriate technology designs. In exploring the low-cost exploitation of solar energy and other renewable energy resources, it is the desire of the foundation to make available to all people, but especially the poor and disadvantaged, inexpensive alternate sources of energy for development and economic viability. The foundation collaborates with Engineers for a Sustainable World at Cornell University, on projects such as the development and testing of solar oven designs.
News and recent developments
- June 2011: The STEVEN Foundation has now completed two trips to Nicaragua in conjunction with the ESW solar oven project at Cornell. In March 2011 we completed our second trip to the district of Totogalpa near the city of Ocotal, where we worked with student representatives from Cornell, Grupo Fenix from Managua, and the Mujeres Solares de Totogalpa (“Solar Women of Totogalpa”), a group that builds and demonstrates solar ovens both in Nicaragua and in other countries. If you are on the Pan-American highway between Esteli and Ocotal, they are about 2 kilometers south of the town of Totogalpa – you can’t miss their ‘Centro Solar’ on the left hand side of the road as you travel north. We are looking forward to another year of projects with the Cornell team during academic year 2011-2012.
- February 2008: We are continuing to collaborate in promoting solar ovens with Engineers for a Sustainable World, or ESW, at Cornell, where Francis teaches a service learning course to undergraduate engineers, some of whom are studying solar cooking. The ESW students’ primary collaborator is now a Nicaraguan NGO called Grupo Fenix that promotes solar cooking, with S.T.E.V.E.N. in an advisory role about the design of the ovens. With our input, and under the leadership of Tim Bond, laboratory manager of the Winter Laboratory at Cornell, the students have also developed a solar simulator using high-power lighting that allows continuous testing of solar oven prototypes at any time of day or night in a protected indoor setting. [Extracted from newsletter.]
- July 2007: The foundation Sustainable Technology and Energy for Vital Economic Needs (STEVEN), of Ithaca, New York, is partnering with the Cornell University chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW) on an upper-level engineering course, now in its fourth year. Teams of students gain hands-on experience in a variety of real-world service projects. One team is working on a solar cooking project for the Sabana Grande community of Nicaragua. The team has taken the name "Amanecer," which means "sunrise" in Spanish, a suitable title for solar cooking advocates. Francis Vanek has taken a prominent role in the service project and has made a close connection with nongovernmental organization Grupo Fenix, based at the National University of Nicaragua in Managua. Amanecer is experimenting with a variety of solar cooker designs, and hopes to improve performance and implement use of the cookers in rural Nicaragua. To promote sustainability, Amanecer is paying attention to expense, local availability of materials, and the expressed needs of the community. The specialized engineering course provides students an abundance of learning opportunities — cultural exchange, ethics, an applied approach to engineering, resourcefulness, an understanding of user needs, and an awareness of local and international communities. Amanecer has sub-teams that focus in three areas: cooker construction, light simulation, and community and market research. The construction team worked on solar cooker designs, while the light simulation team built an indoor testing facility with controlled lighting systems. The community and market research team evaluates the social and environmental impacts of solar cooker use in Nicaragua, and is researching the Kyoto Protocol system of carbon credits in hopes of offsetting solar cooker costs in the future. The ultimate goal of Amanecer is to travel to Nicaragua to implement their solar cooker designs, and gather feedback and data useful to future design modifications. [A note from Francis Vanek: I think you are giving me too much credit, and Tim Bond not enough! It is Tim who has been at the forefront of developing the project with Grupo Fenix, while I have been playing a supporting role.]